Write that down.

A few weeks ago, while driving down 95, I caught part of an interview on NPR, the "Fresh Air" program. I was in a hurry - I can't remember why, I was probably late. 

What I do remember is this: the interview was background, I was only half-listening, until the guest got to this point. And then, suddenly, I was listening. Intently. 

Transcript quote:
"...what happened was, I wrote so much in this book, I would sit at my table for hours and hours 'til my mother made me go to bed. And it was like this - this obsession with words and with writing. And as I got further away from that notebook - now as I was on the street and these ideas would come, I would run into the corner store, the Bodega, and grab like, a paper bag or just buy a juice, anything just to get a paper bag. And then I'd write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket 'til I got back."  

(Italics and hyperlink mine) 

Who was the guest?  Jay-Z.

So, rap/hip-hop is not a genre of music I know well. It's not that I don't like it. I just don't often choose it. In some cases, I don't feel connected to the songs.

Still, this guy with a dramatically different life experience that's conveyed in a medium I don't know was talking about something I did know (well, sorta).

Ideas happen, often when I'm far from my workspace. I've stopped in my tracks and scrambled for my phone to snap a picture of something that prompted an idea for story. I've dug around for a pen to scrawl an idea in my notebook or on the back of a receipt if the notebook wasn't handy. 

So I thought it was cool to hear him talk about that passion for words. I'm not saying I understand Jay-Z's life experience, but I connected to an aspect of a story he told about it. 

That brief connection definitely made me want to listen as long as I could to the rest of the interview, found here

Incidentally, Jay-Z did a rap I that really liked when it came out - because I found it interesting and different. It was cool to hear him talk about that in the interview, too.

Video is courtesy of YouTube.
May contain NSFW/Adult language, content.

Have you ever had a moment of surprise connection?  Tell me in the comments below.


  1. Excellent post. Very good. I never write down everything I want to and it never comes up as awesome as it did when I first thought about it.

  2. This post brought a lot of things to mind, which I guess are surprise connections (loosely):

    First, "Decoder" is awesome. From my perspective, better than the stories of Jay-z's youth are the annotations for his lyrics.

    The Anthology of Rap, from Yale University Press, came out a few months ago. It's really one of the first academic treatments of rap lyrics as poetry, something I'm a big believer in. (Note: I love hip hop, and Jay-Z.) It also caused a bit of a firestorm based on missed, incomplete or incorrect transcriptions. I loved watching the debate play out, especially given the import given to words throughout. The book was also the progenitor for a fantastic feature on NPR, where a book critic reviewed the anthology as poetry, then listened to rap for the first time. Including the videos was a masterstroke and stole thirty minutes of my day.

    Also meant to comment on your post about the importance of words in general with the book "Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, ... With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory," which I love. Worth checking out if you love words.

    Links to everything I mentioned, down here because I don't know how to hyperlink in the text of a comment:





  3. @ Erinn - then you revise the hell out of it until it rocks. Don't forget that part :D

    @ TJ - cool, thanks for the info!